Jon and I had a destination wedding on the beaches of North Carolina, and I honestly am so glad we did it that way! It really felt like we were celebrating all week long, not just one day. In some ways it was stressful, but for the most part, it was low key and laid back and lots more fun than I could have imagined!
Here’s what I learned from planning a destination wedding:
You need to have time.
We had our ceremony on the beach and then the reception at the beach house we rented. When I was planning the layout of the tables and chairs, I only had the photos on the realtors website to go by. Turns out those were old photos, probably from when the house was first built. The area around the pool and beach access were totally different! Thankfully, we arrived on Sunday and the wedding wasn’t until Tuesday. That gave me plenty of time to figure out a new layout.
It’s still a wedding.
We didn’t do the traditional wedding things. We didn’t cut cake, we didn’t do a first dance, and we didn’t have open dancing. The cake I can do without, but I regret not having any dancing. Especially with my Dad. The father daughter dance always gets me emotional at weddings now, and I think it’s honestly because not dancing with my own Dad is something I wish I would have done. And of course dancing with your guests is always fun! We didn’t have anything for guests to do besides eat, drink, and mingle. If I could go back in time, I would make sure I had a great DJ!
You need a timeline.
GASP! Yeah I don’t know what I was thinking. Even though it feels like vacation, you definitely are not on vacation time. Our ceremony started at 6:00 pm, and other than that, there were no other plans. When it came to dinner, we ate just whenever we were done with photos. And when it came to photos, I didn’t know what images I wanted, what images I should have, and what would have been the best plan to get the most out of the photography. Now, whether or not that should have been my responsibility or the photographers responsibility, I’m not sure. But at any rate, it created a lot of opportunity for wasted time and lack of confidence in us as the subjects and the photographer as the creator.
My friends and family had to do everything.
My poor mom. She was in charge of all the food for both the rehearsal dinner on Sunday and the wedding on Tuesday. At the time, I know she was more than happy to do it, and I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Looking back, I realize how extensive of a project that was and how much money that probably cost. My friends decorated the reception area. My Dad and friend ended up being the ones making drinks all night. My mom (again) and friends were the ones who had to clean up after everything was over and make sure all the tables and chairs were put away and ready for the rental company to pick them up the next day. I’m sure all of these people didn’t mind doing those things, and were happy to do them. But I really wish I would have had a day of coordinator to set up and tear down so my friends could enjoy the whole wedding day. And I wish I would have went ahead and paid the money for catering so my mom wouldn’t have had to spend the previous three days cooking and prepping.
All in all though, I think everything went smoothly and ended up being so nice! We kept the guest list at 50 people, which made it feel very quaint and personal. It was wonderful being with everyone for the week and having those amazing memories associated with our favorite vacation spot!
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